"The marvel is not that the bear dances well, but that the bear dances at all."Any work of media that attracts viewers not because they're particularly entertaining—many of them, in point of fact, are dull or otherwise pointless—but because of some gimmick involved in the production: Any work for which the method by which it is created is more interesting than the result. Featuring noteworthy non-actors in major roles (or celebrity guest stars for television episodes) can qualify something for this trope: we don't go to movies with Paris Hilton in them to see how well she acts, after all. Particularly large casts, shockingly difficult productions, unique production methods... anything that's used to sell a work more than its actual content can qualify it for Bear status. The Oner is usually a Bear as well, and Live Episodes too. A Tech Demo Game runs a high risk of being a bear, if the developers cannot balance its gimmick with good gameplay. Another type of Bear is The Item Number, especially if it ranks high on the Fanservice scale and/or features a very well-known "item girl" (or guy). Note that this doesn't include works in which outside events make us more interested in it - The Dark Knight certainly got a considerable amount of attention as a result of Heath Ledger's death, but it wasn't a Dancing Bear. For that, see Reality Subtext. See also Come for the X, Stay for the Y, when the work has a lot more going on than just a bear that dances, and Just Here for Godzilla, for cases where that happens, but the audience doesn't care. See also Overshadowed by Controversy, where a Dancing Bear is especially well-known for controversial moments regardless of other factors. And no, it's not meant to be followed with "painted wings".
— Russian proverb
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Anime & Manga
- The anime of Aku no Hana attracted viewers mainly because it was rotoscoped, and the quality and/or terribleness of this animation style was discussed far more than the show's actual content.
- This Boy Can Fight Aliens! gained attention for being entirely animated from a home computer (like Voices of a Distant Star below).
- Voices of a Distant Star is an amazing short film as it is. What largely drew people's attention to it, on the other hand, was the fact that it was entirely animated by one man on his home computer.
- Ghost Stories became this when it was localized in the west. Due to the localizers having no set limitations for what they could or couldn't do, they let the voice actors improvise almost the entire performance while still following the basic story. Leading to an officially licensed Gag Dub.
- William Wegman's works are known specifically because of his use of Weimaraners in them.
- Abstract paintings have occasionally sold for respectable sums because, and only because, they were painted by apes, elephants, or octopuses.
- The primary reason people read 100 Months is because it is the last work John Hicklenton completed before he died, and indeed completing it was the only thing that delayed him taking his own life.
- The DC Comics series 52 was sold not on its content but on the fact that it was a 52-issue miniseries that would publish an issue a week (for a year) in "real time" (i.e., the events of each issue took place over the course of the week following the week during which the events of the previous issue took place). It also filled in the year of time skipped during DC's "One Year Later" event, during which Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman were missing. It was generally well-received, but led to a brief trend of weekly miniseries for DC, some of which were ... less good.
- My Immortal is notable for being so unbelievably horrible that it circles around and approaches being a masterpiece from the other side. That is to say, the draw is not so much the content, so much as the legendary badness of the work itself.
- The same also goes for the infamous legolas by laura, which features notoriously poor spelling and a Narmy plot.
- My Inner Life is renowned for its terrible writing and the rather... unusual behavior of its writer (among other things, she claims to completely believe the fanfiction is a record of a second life she lives in an alternate dimension while she sleeps and claimed to copyright the fic to sue any detractors).
- There are several My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfics that are famous almost solely due to the novelty of using copious amounts of Gorn rather than for actually being good stories.
- Cupcakes - Pinkie Pie tortures and murders Rainbow Dash. As with The Human Centipede mentioned below, the premise is more horrifying than the execution, and the fic is better remembered for leaving an impact on the Friendship is Magic fandom than for the actual quality of the writing.
- Also, Rainbow Factory, partially because it's sometimes described as "Cupcakes, except it's Rainbow Dash torturing/killing Scootaloo" and partially because of WoodenToaster's Creepy Awesome song of the same title (the fanfic was inspired by the song).
- The nonviolent fan video Double Rainboom is known mainly for the ambitiousness of its premise: a full-length fan-made episode of professional quality. Needless to say, whether or not the video itself is any good in and of itself is up for debate.
- The Subspace Emissary's Worlds Conquest isn't known for being particularly good or particularly bad — rather, it is best known for being flabbergastingly long. Written nonstop ever since Super Smash Bros. Brawl came out in 2008, it clocked in at 3,548,615 words by the time chapter 208 was finished. For comparison, War and Peace is about under 600,000 words. The author has said that he hopes he can finish it all up at chapter 300, but wouldn't be surprised if it continued all the way up to chapter 400.
Films — Animation
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs got a lot of attention primarily because it was the first feature-length cartoon.
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit was sold on the spectacle of animated and live-action characters seamlessly integrated across a cameo-laden full-length feature film.
- Wreck-It Ralph (like Roger Rabbit) also sold itself on the fact that it was cameo-laden, but featuring video game characters this time.
- Romeo & Juliet: Sealed with a Kiss is generally regarded as, at best, an average and unimaginative film. But if nothing else many folks who've seen it or at least know of it appreciate the fact that, like Voices of a Distant Star above, it was animated entirely by one man.
- Bartok the Magnificent. Ignoring the fact that the film does in fact have a dancing bear, the film was originally marketed on the fact that it starred a minor, comedic bit player from the then-hit Anastasia as the main character. Today, it is mainly remembered today because it is the only sequel to a Don Bluth film that was directed by Don himself.
- Both Disney and Pixar apparently considered the original Toy Story an example of this. Promotion centered on the fact that this was the first entirely CGI feature-length film. Some of the original trailers featured only the darkest sequences and an 'adult' score different from the movie's, and practically 'forgot' to tell the viewer that this is a family film about two toys wanting to return to their owner.
- The Thief and the Cobbler is mostly remembered for its extremely long and Troubled Production.
- Sausage Party was promoted for being the first ever R-rated CGI feature film.
- The "unholy trinity," Watership Down, The Plague Dogs, and Felidae. Three animated films known almost solely for masquerading as kid's films before surprising you with copious amounts of death, gore, disturbing imagery, and in the latter, a graphic sex scene with cats.
Films — Live-Action
- While the extreme difficulty of the production of The Abyss was not explicitly used as a selling point in the advertising, it came up again and again in entertainment news coverage of the film.
- Act of Valor is a feature-length film showcasing active-duty Navy Seals using their actual equipment and methods.
- Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, a 2002 film produced entirely by Inuit, is a reasonably good movie... but the fact that it won 20 international awards and was nominated for ten more can really only be explained by people's appreciation for the fact that a film made by, for, and in the Inuit community was able to dance at all.
- Avatar. The whole fuss about the technological achievements necessary to pull the movie off, including 3D digital film cameras, motion capture refinements, etc. The never-fully-disclosed but definitely astronomical budget and the marketing-induced hype also contributed to its status as this.
- Boyhood is a pretty standard Slice of Life film about life and growing up. The real draw is the fact that it purposely took over ten years to produce as it averted Time Shifted Actors and was filmed at different points using the same actors. So when we see six year old Mason grow into an adult we really are seeing his actor transform from a child into a man.
- Carry On Camping is mostly remembered for Barbara Windsor's character's bikini top flying off and hitting Kenneth Williams in the face. It's a wonder why it's the most successful movie in the series...
- Brandon Lee was killed in a freak accident during the filming of The Crow, and in the scenes that hadn't been filmed yet he had to be digitally inserted or replaced by a double. This generated a lot of interest in the film at the time.
- The sole selling point for the film The Cure for Insomnia was that, with a running time of 87 hours, it was the world's longest movie.
- Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid is built around the clever editing and production tricks that make it seem like Steve Martin is directly interacting with the characters in old movie clips. Without those, there wouldn't be a movie.
- Robert Rodriguez's El Mariachi was seen as impressive due to being a major studio release with an initial budget of $7,000.
- Escape from Tomorrow probably wouldn't have received as much hype as it is were it not for the fact that the film — a dark surrealist neo-noir depicting a man slowly going insane — was extensively sneak-shot throughout Disney Theme Parks.
- Fitzcarraldo is best-known simply because of its Troubled Production, and the fact that you're really watching people moving a ship through the jungle, using techniques even more difficult than the ones of the real event it's based on.
- Forrest Gump achieved much of its fame at the time for the use of digital technology to seamlessly incorporate Tom Hanks into historical footage.
- Gladiator wouldn't have qualified purely as a result of Oliver Reed's death ... but the fact that the producers made a big deal about how they used special effects to allow the movie to be completed puts it deep into this territory.
- Hardcore Henry is a high-octane, fast-paced action film best known for being shot entirely from the first-person perspective of the main character. Unsurprisingly, it was influenced largely by First-Person Shooter games.
- The Human Centipede, which is about three people getting sewn together anus-to-mouth. The premise is far more horrifying than the execution. Film critic Roger Ebert refused to give it a star rating because it was so absurd, and anyone who wanted to see such a film would do it whether Ebert approved of it or not.
- Heath Ledger's last film, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Ledger only managed to film half of his role before dying, and Colin Farrell, Jude Law and Johnny Depp were brought in to play the character when he was in an Alternate Dimension. Quite a few people watched the film just to see if they could pull it off.
- Incubus, filmed entirely in Esperanto and starring William Shatner.
- The Jazz Singer in 1927 was the first film to feature lip-synchronized singing and dialogue, albeit only in a few scenes. It served as a Genre Turning Point for film in general, ushering in the Rise of the Talkies.
- The Machinist may be a tense, well-acted drama, but it has also become famous for the ghoulish appearance of Christian Bale, who starved himself down to a skeleton for the role.
- At the time it was released, "Manos" The Hands of Fate piqued its premiere audience's interest for being a film made on a dare between an actual filmmaker and a manure salesman. Said salesman used a single camera to record all of the footage in the film, and hired a man (John Reynolds) to play a satyr using special prosthetics. Of course, the film became infamous for how bad it was, and later received new interest for being one of the worst films ever screened on Mystery Science Theater 3000. It was also notable for being the only role Reynolds (Torgo) ever played - he killed himself a month before the film opened.
- Memento, the film told backwards! Probably!
- Michael Jackson's This Is It wouldn't have been made if not for the fact that Jackson died before the concert series he was rehearsing for could take place, leaving the rehearsal footage that was shot for his personal use as the last footage of him performing at all, and thus of huge interest to his fans.
- The Irish film My Name Is Emily was given a lot of press for the fact that its director suffered from motor neuron disease and directed the entire film through eye-recognition software. Other press came from a scene where hundreds of extras run naked into the sea.
- Pixels got a lot of buzz early on because of the involvement of many licensed video game characters. Sadly, it didn't work out as well as Adam Sandler hoped, and the film got a poor reception from critics and regular moviegoers alike.
- Primer is mostly well known for having No Budget and being made by an engineer rather than anyone with a film-making background. And for being impenetrably confusing.
- The film Redline allegedly went for this by getting star Eddie Griffin to crash a car as a publicity scheme. It failed miserably because car fans, presumably the target market, were outraged at the destruction of an extremely expensive and rare car as part of the stunt. According to Griffin's side of the story as told in "Freedom Of Speech", the car crash was completely unintentional on his part and was not a publicity stunt.
- Alfred Hitchcock regarded Rope as a failed experiment in stretching the limits of making a film as few cuts as possible. Film critics and historians would agree that the technical execution left much to be desired, but the writing and performances are still well regarded.
- The 2003 film Russian Ark is a 90-minute exploration of Russia's legendary museum and historical building the Hermitage. The film takes place over centuries, features a literal Cast of Thousands, has amazing costuming, good performances, and so on. It's also The Oner.
- Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and Sin City were novel when they came out in the mid-2000s because they were among the first major films to use a "digital backlot" which blended live action characters with entirely digital backgrounds. The former was also noteworthy for featuring Sir Laurence Olivier a full fifteen years after his death, via the use of careful editing of previous recordings. This was in fact the main reason Jude Law decided to star in the film.
- Samuel L. Jackson claims he was in the movie Snakes on a Plane only because of the title. The name alone made it vastly popular on the Internet, long before it was released. Ironically, although the Internet buzz led the studio to expect "dancing bear" type success at the box office, the film itself didn't do nearly as well as expected.
- South of Sanity is a Slasher Movie shot in Antarctica by the crew of a base stationed there.
- The Terror of Tiny Town is a 1938 Western movie with an all-midget cast.
- Timecode is not just done in Real Time, but in real time with a four-way split screen throughout.
- William Castle's The Tingler introduced a "spine-tingling" sensation people experience when afraid of something. Certain seats in theaters showing the film had devices installed so that at certain points the viewer would feel something crawling up their back...
- Tiptoes wouldn't be nearly as well-known were it not for its absurd teaser trailer that attempts to make a serious drama about dwarfism into a romantic comedy from the 90's, the Troubled Production or Gary Oldman's out-of-turn performance as a dwarf (complete with prosthetics).
- For Trail of the Pink Panther (1982), Blake Edwards and MGM/UA used mostly-unused scenes from The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976) of the late Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau for the film's first half by putting them into a different storyline via new scenes with the series regulars. The second half, after Clouseau "goes missing", is a Clip Show of his greatest hits tied together with a reporter investigating the matter. Pitted against a number of production obstacles, Edwards' new film became a dancing bear that spiked the audience's curiosity to come out and judge if he could make it funny. The fact that Edwards couldn't became clear when Sellers's widow successfully sued him and the studio for tarnishing her late husband's image. This proved a bad omen for the next film, 1983's Curse of the Pink Panther, which picked up where this left off to introduce Clouseau's Replacement Scrappy.
- TRON was viewed as this by the Hollywood community when it was released. Many people went to see it simply for the computer animation, not out of any expectation of high entertainment.
- Wake Up, Ron Burgundy is a semi-sequel to Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. It is notable because the film is comprised of deleted scenes, outtakes and unused subplots from the original film - there was so much material that the filmmakers cobbled it together and released it direct-to-DVD.
- Waterworld generated interest from its floating sets, which caused it to become a highly troubled production and inflated its budget to the largest of any film at the time.
- Surprisingly for this form of media, Twitch Plays Pokémon is this, due to the fact that the game is controlled entirely by input from the chat, with anywhere from 50 thousand to 100 thousand people watching the stream at any time. What's even more amazing is that they've managed to beat Pokémon Red in a little over 16 days, and Pokémon Crystal in just over 13 days.
- Fish Plays Pokemon had over 21,000 people watching a fish move about a bowl to play Pokémon Red.
- RNG Plays Pokemon, which was effectively just the Fish version, but much faster, and without the fish.
- Blindfolded speedruns. Inevitably, these are slower than un-blindfolded ones, but are still popular for the novelty of watching someone try to beat a video game while unable to see anything, and for bizarre problems that can come up.
- Clarissa is remembered for being the longest novel in the English language.
- The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby received a lot of attention for the laborious way the novel was written. The author suffered "locked-in syndrome" and blinked his left eyelid to respond to a transcriber repeatedly reciting a French language frequency-ordered alphabet until Bauby blinked to choose the next letter. This took ten months. The book itself was well-received.
- The most widely publicized fact about Eragon was that the author finished the first draft when he was fifteen - he was nineteen by the time it was published (after extensive revision) and also received a lot of critical slack for that reason. Whether or not it has outgrown its beardom is a matter of debate.
- Though Finnegans Wake is made by the same author as the better known, better studied Ulysses, most people know the book for its odd, stream-of-consciousness writing style.
- Look upon this lipogrammatic work Gadsby, in which a story is told without using a particular glyph (past 'd', prior to 'f') commonly found in this script, as is this particular saying. A similar motif occurs within A Void.
- It really didn't matter how good Go Set a Watchman actually was; it was guaranteed to be a smash success purely out of the fact that it was only Harper Lee's second published book a full fifty-five years after she wowed the literary world with To Kill a Mockingbird. You're rather more likely to find someone who knows that part, but not that Watchman was actually written first, and then Lee's agent suggested she do a book with the characters as kids instead.
- The Jungle by Upton Sinclair is best remembered for its exposure of the unsanitary practices of the meat-packing industry. It is often used as an example of the muckracking genre. However, Sinclair intended the book to be an indictment of capitalism and a paean to socialism.
- Le Train de nulle part, a novel without verbs.
- Henry Darger's The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion, usually abbreviated as In the Realms of the Unreal, is an enormous 15,000+ page work illustrated with loads of "outsider art" that is better known for its insane length and decades-long composition than for any artistic merits it might have (though really, the length and the large number of important illustrations make a wide release of the story very challenging, so it's not like people can simply pick it up at a library/bookstore/e-book shop to judge said merits on their own).
- To many people, War and Peace is remembered because it's one of the longest classic narratives ever written.
- Fifty Shades of Grey is pretty much remembered for two things: being published Twilight fanfiction and featuring BDSM.
- The Cormoran Strike Novels jumped from relative obscurity to bestsellers after it turned out that their author was actually none other than J. K. Rowling.
- Woman's World by Graham Rawle is notable as it was created solely using clippings from old magazines. More here.
- Hun er vred ("She is angry") is a feminist post-colonial novel by Maja Lee Langvald. It's a harsh critique of the international adoption industry. But what gets it the most attention from people is that every single paragraph in the entire novel starts with the words "She is angry."
Live Action TV
- The Charmed episode "Cat House" was marketed around the fact that it was a unique spin on the Clip Show - Phoebe and Paige would be sent back in time, and be superimposed over clips of previous episodes. There was a lot of buzz over how they would get around showing clips of Prue - as Shannen Doherty had forbidden the producers from ever using archive footage of her. The result was one shot of Prue from behind (which was done by a stunt double) and a clip from when she was turned into a dog.
- The 1984 album Neptune by “one man band” Celluloid is notable for being entirely played on the Mellotron.
- Charm City Devils' cover version of "Man of Constant Sorrow," the bluegrass song popularized by O Brother, Where Art Thou?, is known primarily because it's done as a metal song.
- Foo Fighters released Sonic Highways in 2014. Though it was fairly well-reviewed overall, the main grab was that it featured eight songs about major cities recorded in said cities. The accompanying documentary miniseries emphasized this point further.
- Erik Satie's "Vexations" is a single page of piano music with a suggestion to play it 840 times in a row. The first performance to follow Satie's suggestion to the letter took place in 1963, with a tag team of pianists, and lasted over 18 hours.
- While critics are mixed on the quality of Guns N' Roses's forever-delayed Chinese Democracy, fans are amazed it was released at all. Its actual musical qualities are submerged beneath the fact it notoriously took fifteen years (and a record-breaking alleged $13m) to make.
- Gustav Mahler's eighth symphony for large orchestra and multiple choruses was billed in its premiere as "Symphony of a Thousand" (most modern performances fall a few hundred short of that number); Mahler privately mocked this, calling it a "Barnum and Bailey production."
- This video contains perhaps the worst rendition of the James Bond theme you will ever hear. What makes it fascinating is that it is performed by miniature autonomous robotic helicopters.
- John Cage's 1952 'composition', 4'33". It's famous for being "four minutes and 33 seconds of silence", often either regarded as a sublime anti-music or an Emperor's New Clothes of modern art. More technically, it's not silence but ambient white noise: literally the sound of an orchestra sitting there quietly in front of an audience with their instruments for four minutes and thirty-three seconds and not playing them.
- Karlheinz Stockhausen's opera Light contains a piece that is supposed to be played by a string quartet sitting in four different flying helicopters, their music then transmitted to a big hangar for people to listen to.
- Another Stockhausen opus, Gruppen, calls for three separate orchestras to perform equally distant from the audience. This plan doesn't fit with many concert halls.
- Leif Inge's 9 Beet Stretch is a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (which typically runs 65-70 minutes) digitally stretched to 24 hours without pitch shifting.
- Much of the early press surrounding Little Big Town made note of the fact that all four members alternate as lead singers, then a really novel concept for a country group. Fortunately, they've also been able to prove themselves as more than just a novelty by having put out a string of well-received albums.
- Jazz pianist Joey Alexander gained attention even outside the usual jazz circles for being a child prodigy, who released his first album when he was 11 years old. He has the chops to live up to the hype, and he's played with big names in jazz like Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra.
- Much of the hype surrounding Billy Gilman when the then-11-year-old country singer from Rhode Island charted "One Voice" in 2000 was about the fact that he was the youngest male artist to score a country hit. That novelty, combined with the song's narm, wore off fast, and Gilman was never heard from again.
- If the country band Ricochet is remembered for anything other than their only remembered song "Daddy's Money", it's for the fact that they were not only the first country artist ever to chart a rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner", but also that said rendition was one of only a very small number of a cappella songs to enter the country charts (a feat they later repeated with a rendition of "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow" that garnered some seasonal airplay).
In general, as pinball machines were originally marketed to operators, who would put them out in public for people to play, advertising for them tended to be more about unique gimmicks and other novelties than about the gameplay itself, as operators were not necessarily players and thus were more likely persuaded on gimmicks and novelties than how good the game actually played. Rather than talk about, say, The Addams Family's intricate depth, its challenging yet fair difficulty, or its scoring oriented around Competitive Balance, it was easier to convince operators to buy the game because Thing comes out of a box and grabs the ball! Or hidden magnets swing the ball around in unpredictable directions!
- Black Hole was the first machine to popularize multi-level playfields—in this case, a smaller one beneath the main one, seen through a window. The artwork on the backglass up top also has a large spinning mirrored disk, creating a Droste Image of a rampaging black hole.
- Black Knight had a related concept: The split-level playfield, where the top half is elevated compared to the bottom half. This proved popular enough to inspire Follow the Leader for its competitors, at least for a brief while. Its sequel, Black Knight 2000, had the same gimmick, only now it was advertised to have a full-length song with vocals playing in the background.
- Centigrade 37 integrated a thermometer into the artwork whose mercury would rise as the game is played. The game itself is well-liked up to the present, but the thermometer was such a big part of the artwork that it would've been the first thing most people would see, especially to onlookers watching it rise as someone plays it.
- High Roller Casino was shown off in its marketing for its tri-color LED miniature display that could show scrolling messages and slot machine reel animations,note which itself was placed above a short ramp that would dunk the ball into a model of a slot machine, whose arm would descend whenever it's activated. In addition, there was a spinning roulette wheel that the ball could fall into and a set of drop targets with stand-up targets behind them that would generate poker hands based on the order they're hit.
- Orbitor 1's appeal is solely that its playfield is not entirely flat, but is instead warped transparent plastic, causing the ball to travel unusual paths. Sometimes, a point would be made that the machine was designed by a NASA astrophysicist. Aside from that, the playfield itself was pretty empty, making the games incredibly boring.
- The main draw of Space Shuttle, whenever it would appear in arcades and other public places, was an accurate scale model of a NASA shuttle placed onto the playfield. Straightforward as it was, this actually worked incredibly well: As such levels of detail could not be replicated in video games at the time, Space Shuttle proved to be very popular (for pinball), getting pinball out of the slump it had in the mid-80's. It worked so well, it became standard for pinball machines released afterwards to have a model of something on the playfield somewhere.
- The pinball machine for Starship Troopers focused on two easily noticeable aspects: A pretty large model of a Brain Bug that would normally stay hidden but would pop up for you to hit with the ball during certain times; and a third flipper, smaller than the other two and colored red, controlled by a third button on the side of the machine.
- The flyers distributed to operators for The Twilight Zone had a large part dedicated to the gumball machine in the corner: This one is filled with pinballs, and when you deposit a ball behind it, the handle on the gumball machine would turn on its own and provide you with a replacement ball.
- TX-Sector proudly advertised its so-called "teleporting balls": Two pinballs were kept in reserve at various spots, ready to be released under certain conditions, creating the illusion that a single ball teleported elsewhere.
- Xenon's gimmick was that it was the first large-scale release of a pinball machine to have pre-recorded voice clips. As it was released in 1980, right when computer technology became small enough to fit in a pinball machine, it took a lot of work to produce the equipment to get the several seconds' worth of those recordings. The designers and engineers sure as heck weren't going to let that go by unnoticed.
- In turn, the marketing for Gorgar was completely about how the various voice clips for the titular creature could be spliced together to form other phrases.
- Arguably, the large monitor in The Wizard of Oz is this. Though downplayed in the promotional materials for this machine, it was the first mass-produced pinball machine to have a full-size flat-screen monitor embedded in it, which is a lot more colorful, bigger, brighter, and most importantly, a lot more modern-looking than the single-color dot-matrix displays Jersey Jack Pinball's competitors were using at the time, and thus draws a lot of attention from onlookers and passers-by. Operators with a Wizard of Oz machine and no other monitor-based pinball machines claim that Oz brings in at least several times as many players as their dot-matrix display or older machines. Although The Wizard of Oz is a solid game in its own right, only time will tell if this novelty continues to last as more machines are released with monitors like this one.
- The Muppet Movie had an extremely well-received scene of Kermit riding a bicycle when he first sets out on his journey to become a Hollywood star. This scene was popular because it was assumed that it must have been difficult to film, but it was actually pretty easy to film and, to the annoyance of the producers, it took focus away from the extremely difficult scene in which Gonzo is carried away by a bunch of balloons.
- The Muppets focused on and was marketed almost entirely on the basis of "Holy shit, the Muppets are back!"
- Thunderbolt Fantasy got the attention of the anime fandom due to its association with Gen Urobuchi. Puppet shows are not typical content for anime streaming sites, to say the least, so the medium made up most of the message; any discussion of it centers on the strangeness of watching Taiwanese puppet theatre scripted by a famous anime writer.
- The third-party D&D adventure The World's Largest Dungeon puts its Dancing Bear right in the title. Not only is it the largest published dungeon, it also features almost every monster in the Open Game License, and is one of the most expensive RPG sourcebooks ever sold. The actual contents of the dungeon are mostly considered to be horribly edited, unbalanced, and severely padded.
- Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is more famous for its troubled production than anything else. The technical aspects (including a spectacular aerial battle above the audience) are the main reasons to see the show.
- Alpha Waves is pretty much known only for the fact that it was a 3D platformer made in the 16-bit era.
- Brutal Mario in general. With the gimmick being lots and lots of ASM that stretches the engine to its limits. It's quite a common gimmick for Mario hacks in general, with other examples of being Mario Fantasy, Super Mario LD and the Ore World series, which also have wildly varying quality of level design.
- Disney Infinity is mostly notable for two things. It has Disney characters and sets you buy as figures, and it's a toy box you can make other games in.
- Duke Nukem Forever, if only for the fact that it spent over twelve years in development and won numerous awards for its repeated delays, even outliving the game's own developers after they were axed by their publishers. At this point, just the fact that this game exists and can actually be played is reason enough for many to buy it.
- Dust: An Elysian Tail was designed, programmed, and illustrated almost entirely by Dean Dodrill, with only voice-acting and music coming from other people.
- L.A. Noire was hyped on its (at the time) revolutionary motion/facial capture technique, which literally digitized the faces of actors onto their virtual counterparts, along with an interrogation system that forced players to figure out subtle facial cues to determine whether a suspect was lying or not.
- Lose/Lose is a Mac space shooter that permanently deletes a random file in your Home folder for every enemy you kill. The creator even admitted that the game was made as a funny little experiment and was surprised that people actually played and enjoyed it.
- Though not developed by one man any more, Minecraft allows each player to become their own "one-man/woman development team" in-game, due to the absolutely huge game world note and seemingly infinite building possibilities. More advanced players also have a dancing bear in how easily modifiable the game is, and the sheer number of game mods available as a result.
- The MMORPG genre (at the very least until World of Warcraft). Just the idea of playing with hundreds or millions of other people simply by plugging in your modem mad even the worst balanced exposure to the most annoyingly ill-behaved players tremendously appealing.
- The NARC (2005) remake banked on controversy over its drug use mechanic to help sell games. Although it did get media attention, it didn't sell very well.
- The Wii was the console version of this when it first came out; the platform was sold not on the quality of its games, but on the fact that it had a unique control mechanism that utilized motion control. Although later games for the console moved away from the whole gimmick aspect, the original incarnation of the system and its early games were enough to be a massive seller for Nintendo. The Xbox 360's Kinect and Sony's PlayStation Move also tried to utilize the same format, though with less success.
- The Wii U also tried to do this with its GamePad, but the reception for it (to date) has been lukewarm.
- Nintendo experimenting with gimmicks dates back to their very first video game, EVR Race. Player input consisted of nothing more than choosing a horse or car that one thought would come in first, but it was notable anyway as the first video game to ever use Full Motion Video.
- Nintendo themselves had long been renowned for having, compared to other game companies, a squeaky-clean image, often forcing developers to censor their games for mature content such as violence, religion, or bad language. Even after they abided by the ESRB and allowed devs and publishers to include such things, what really stands out is the times Nintendo published an M-rated game themselves, which to date is a very small list including the Nintendo 64 versions of Perfect Dark and Conker's Bad Fur Day, Eternal Darkness, Geist, new installments of Fatal Frame, and Bayonetta 2.
- Portal started off as this, being focused on puzzles that require thinking with non-Euclidean portals, and was first released in The Orange Box compilation alongside the heavyweights of Half-Life 2, its episodic sequels, and Team Fortress 2, seeming very small by comparison. However, its easy-to-grasp gameplay, darkly witty writing, and main villain proved that there was a lot more than just a simple gimmick, and it became the most acclaimed game out of The Orange Box, eventually getting a sequel.
- The Red Faction franchise became notorious for its groundbreaking GeoMod technology and physics simulation, which allowed players to blow open walls or destroy environments (to a level not normally seen in previous games) if they couldn't get through a door or obstacle.
- Sonic the Hedgehog 1 was sold on and became popular for two aspects; One, it was a blistering fast game for its time, allegedly thanks to the brazenly marketed "Blast Processing" abilities of the Sega Genesis, and, to a lesser extent, for having a light streak of edge to it that was lacking from the more vanilla Super Mario World and Sega's own previous Mario wannabe, Alex Kidd, while still having a bit of lighthearted cartoon appeal lacking from Sega's other arcade ports and more mature games for their console.
- Many games and programs for the early Sinclair computers (especially the ZX80 and ZX81) fell into this category as programmers worked around their limitations.
- 1K ZX Chess fits most of the rules and a computer-controlled player into an unexpanded Sinclair ZX81. The fact that it's missing castling, promotions and en passant and that the AI can only look one move ahead is beside the point- 1KB is a ludicrously small amount of memory. note It's generally considered an incredible achievement, even if it's not likely to kick Garry Kasparov's backside.
- Why is this version of Donkey Kong with blocky, monochrome, text-based graphics impressive? Because it shouldn't be possible at all. Sinclair's ZX80 (the predecessor to the better-known ZX81) would normally blank the display- however briefly- whenever it was doing any form of processing.note This made games with any form of moving graphics intolerably flickery at best... unless you were very clever with your timing.
- Skylanders is a fairly enjoyable series, however what makes it stand out (aside from being attached to the Spyro the Dragon franchise) is the toy gimmick. You have to purchase toys in order to play certain characters.
- There's this Flappy Bird clone called Tappy Chicken, which, let's face it, nobody would play if it weren't for the fact that it's a Tech Demo Game for the mobile app applications of the Unreal Engine.
- Cave Story is a solid game in any context and did well critically, but its biggest claim to fame is that everything in the original version, from the game engine to the levels, graphics, animations, music, story, weapons, enemies, physics, etc, was all made by one person in his spare time. Taking into account the size, quality, and initial release date of the game, this was highly notable.
- At first, Borderlands was only really notable for the "87 Bazillion" randomly-generated guns. The sequels went a good bit beyond that.
- The budget fighting game Fight of Gods probably would have been an obscure footnote were it not for the fact that one of the playable characters is none other than Jesus Christ, which almost instantly catapulted it to internet infamy.
- Axe Cop is popular in large part because of the sheer novelty of a comic written by a 5-6 year old boy, albeit with art and interpretation by his 30 year old brother, a talented professional cartoonist.
- The main gimmick of Dinosaur Comics is that almost all strips are identical, with only the occasional minor alteration.
- Homestuck has a gimmick which it grew into - its use of Medium Awareness combined with the Infinite Canvas of a webcomic.
- Many xkcd-comic-inspired Defictionalizations are only recognized because of their inspirational source. The "Tetris in hell" game, for example, is interesting entirely because someone actually bothered to make it even though it doesn't really add anything to the original joke.
- Sonichu is a webcomic with terrible artwork, incoherent stories and a cast of bland Mary Sue characters. The comic's main draw is the fact that it provides a window into its creator's bizarre life.
- The reason how Clutch Cargo penetrated into pop culture as far as it did is solely because of its Trope Codifier status in using Synchro-Vox. The show The Higgins Boys and Gruber even claims that "If it weren't for the lips, it'd be a filmstrip!"
- Fred Perry's Gold Digger: Time Raft OVA. Its poor acting, rudimentary animation, and extreme Schedule Slip are forgiven because Mr. Perry did everything (besides the voice acting). He wrote the script, created the music, and drew every single frame of this hour-long animated movie by himself.
- Paperman is a really cute short but the main draw is the animation style and potential. It's an All-CGI Cartoon that looks like traditional animation. Disney has since used the same style in other shorts and there is much discussion when a full-length film using this animation technique will come out.
- One of South Park's claims to fame is that it is an animated series where most episodes are produced entirely within the week before they air, thanks to its very simple and limited animation style. This allows it to completely avert Animation Lead Time and be extremely topical.
- Season 20 Episode 7, involving the 2016 United States presidential election, is of particular note because it was rewritten and remade less than a day before it aired, as the election results that day turned out to be the opposite of what the creators predicted.
- An In-Universe version occurs during the VeggieTales Christmas video, "The Star of Christmas." The protagonists are attempting to open a musical called "The Princess and the Plumber" on Christmas night in order to escape the fate of using their talents to sell dental wax. While some effort is made towards advertising it based on its merits as an actual play, Cavis Appethart repeatedly sells new actors and backers on it with the promise of using fancy, newly-invented electrical lights on the sets and costumes.
- An actual dancing bear is used in this format in-universe on The Critic. Jay's show is falling in the ratings and the set is converted to a rustic cabin appearance, complete with stuffed bear. Except the hippies wouldn't accept a stuffed bear, so they just drugged him up. After it attacks Jay, it offers an apology by way of dancing a polka and moonwalk as he plays the concertina.